Search for Addiction Treatment Centers Near You Forums Substance Abuse Saying hello and sharing my story…

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    Hi everyone. I’ve been lurking for a little while and am ready to share my situation and plans. Any advice or info is greatly appreciated. And I’ll apologize ahead of time for my wordiness and what will surely be a long post…I have a bad habit of using 10 words when 5 would do.

    Until 2007 I was working as a nurse and not addicted to drugs or alcohol. I was fairly judgmental of my friends who would use opiates for what I thought were ridiculous reasons like a headache. In my mind, those meds were reserved for cancer, terminally ill or trauma patients. I’d had procedures like my wisdom teeth out, car accidents, babies, fibromyalgia, arthritis and even cancer and relied on ibuprofen only.

    Guess you could say that karma came back and got me. I was diagnosed with cancer in 2007 at age 32 and went through chemo and radiation. Thankfully that put me in remission, where I hope I remain. I did have a lot of complications and long lasting problems. I had aggressive lymphoma which is a blood/immune system cancer and is inoperable because the tumors are soft instead of solid. Mine was in my chest compressing my heart, it had destroyed the major veins in my chest and neck. I have scar tissue in the area now, a heart issue, and the damage is permanent. I’ve been disabled since then.

    I also have a history of generalized anxiety disorder with panic attacks starting as a teen and major depression diagnosed during my cancer treatments. I take Xanax and Effexor XR for that, started in 2007. Honestly, other than sleep I don’t have to take the Xanax or another benzo, but I do try to always take them before I go out. If I don’t I sometimes have panic attacks. But for sleep, I’d say I’m pretty dependent on them.

    I started taking Vicodin in the spring of 2008. This was a mix of physical pain and emotional pain. I lost a pregnancy because of a CT scan cancer check up. They did do a pregnancy test prior which came back negative but I really was pregnant and the radiation caused the pregnancy to be lost. That was pretty much the last thing I could tolerate.

    The Vicodin quickly stopped working, I was switched to Percocet and then when I needed more and more of that I was switched to Oxycodone 15mg (immediate release) to avoid too much Tylenol. I really don’t remember ever having a “high” from the meds, maybe just a little rest from the constant pains and bad thoughts. That benefit didn’t last long. I also seem to have a bit of energy after I take them, I have pretty bad fatigue from the cancer treatments.

    I had to have my Oxycodone increased and have been on the same script for about 2 years, I’m “allowed” 45mg in the morning, then 30mg every 2 hours as needed-it equals 13 pills a day with a total of 360 pills a month. I have included this because I stopped following those recommendations pretty quickly as my body adjusted. I would run out a week early consistently, after several months of that my doctor noticed and mentioned it. I became paranoid to ask for more for fear he’d stop prescribing the pills but I continue to use more than I get. That last week is a stressful time, but I’ve always been able to find something somewhere to get me through without withdrawals.

    My husband is also a nurse for hospice and he was the first to notice the problem. I was in denial, or maybe just pretended to be and he has enabled my habit. The times that I would start having withdrawal symptoms-the hot/cold sweats and goose bumps and crawling skin, can’t sit still, etc. He was the one who figured out that it was withdrawal-so I’ve known that for awhile. I try to not go that long without my meds. Usually it happens when I sleep too long. Once I’m able to get to sleep, I sleep a long time 12 or more hours. I don’t take the Oxy before bed, since it gives me the energy boost-I feel like taking it before I go to sleep a waste.

    I have become a completely different person since taking opiates. At first I blamed it on the long lasting effects of chemo and radiation and I’m sure that has something to do with it. But I now admit the pills do cause problems. I rarely leave the house. I’ve stopped talking/visiting with friends, family except for holidays. I’m so unmotivated and tired that even a shower is too much effort. Our house became a disaster zone until just recently, and that was my husband’s effort because we are going to be moving. I have so much laundry for my kids, it’s often easier to buy new online. Well it was until I ran out of money. I also did a lot of online shopping for things we didn’t need-I’d get a boost of happiness when I’d order something but lose interest when the box would arrive…so many I’ve never even opened. I sleep, and eat once a day. I spend my whole awake time sitting on my back porch chain smoking. Usually I’m online, but lately that’s gotten dull. I have so many things I want to do but I never do them and every day I promise that the next day I’ll do laundry or housework or go to the store. The next day comes and I just have no energy (can’t tell if it’s again from my treatments or the pills). I don’t even open my mail and have missed so many things, I’ve actually let my prescription coverage lapse. I misunderstood the payment schedule thinking it was quarterly instead of monthly, I would have known if I’d opened the letters.

    Physically I’m also a mess. It’s hard to tell if it’s medical issues or opiate issues. Fatigue. Insomnia but then very deep sleep. Major weight gain of 70 pounds. Fluid retention and edema all over. Constipation and urine retention or the sudden urge to go to the urinate where I hardly make it to the bathroom in time. Sweating profusely. Short of breath. High heart rate. Pain of all kinds-muscles, joints, burning skin that is sensitive to touch. Muscle jerking. Depression and anxiety. Apathy. Forgetfulness and even complete memory loss. Cognitive fog. Blurry vision. Migraines.

    The reason I’ve finally decided that my life needs to change started a couple weeks ago. I went to my parents for my dad’s birthday and apparently during dinner my mom noticed my eyes were strange and that I was very lethargic and barely able to lift the fork. She did ask me at the time if my eyes were bothering me, and I told her they were. It was hard to focus, I kept rubbing them. I didn’t realize any of the other things she noticed. I think this went away after dinner, we spent a lot of time looking around our new house (it’s right across the street from them). A few days after that my dad sent an email with the concerns and I was so upset, embarrassed and also panicked. My doctor is my dad’s best friend. And the way my dad is, I feared he’d go barging in to the doctor and insist he stop prescribing the pain pills. My parents don’t understand withdrawal, though my mom is a nurse. She also believes that the doctor over prescribes to my dad (he has terrible back problems and pain, and will be having a spinal fusion soon).

    I denied all of this to my parents. I admitted it to my husband and we’ve been learning about treatment options. He has me keeping a log of how often and how much I take the Oxy. The first week I was between 120mg and 330mg of the immediate release. I tried to cut back and the second week I averaged a 60mg decrease. He doesn’t think that I would live through the withdrawals of quitting due to my health issues and his first option of choice is the rapid detox. We can’t afford that. So we are thinking about trying the Suboxone. I’d like to hear anyone’s experiences with it.

    My mom brought it up again today to my husband so I called my dad and decided to tell him. Since he takes Vicodin and has for a long time I figured he’d sort of understand better. I have such a fear of not being able to get my pills, and if my dad didn’t understand about the withdrawal…again I could imagine him telling my doctor to not prescribe anymore. I asked him to let me talk to the doctor when I see him at the end of the month. So that went ok. My dad is a “do it now” sort of person and he wants me to get started right away on the Suboxone. I tried explaining how it worked to him and he didn’t understand how I could still take my pain pills if the opiate receptors were blocked. I had to explain that I couldn’t take them anymore and would have to rely on non-narcotics. So at least he does understand that I have pain. He doesn’t know about the pregnancy though.

    So, that is where I’m at. I sort of have a plan, if I can find a doctor to prescribe the Suboxone and if I can afford it. Everyone knows and that is relieving slightly, moreso I feel guilty, sad, depressed, anxious and scared. I’m so angry at myself for getting into this mess, for all the damage I’ve caused and being a prisoner to opiates. I never, ever dreamed that this would be me. I really don’t know what to do in the meantime. I hate every time I take the pills, but I can’t not take them. Not only because of the withdrawal but the cravings. I slept too long last night/today and woke up with the cold/hot sweats and chills and squirming. Guess it’s a reminder of the mess and confirming my fears.

    Thanks everyone for reading this. Again, I’m sorry for the long windedness, now that the story is told, I hope that I won’t have to go on and on like this again. Please feel free to share any thoughts or advice you have. For all of you who have gotten out of this prison and who are working hard on getting out, I am so amazed at your strength. There have been several times the past two weeks that reading here has stopped the cravings for a little bit.

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